Lost Footsteps
Lost Footsteps

Yangon, Global City (1853-1962)

1855
The pagoda we rarely see: the elegant Signal Pagoda in 1855

The pagoda we rarely see: the elegant Signal Pagoda (အလံပြ ဘုရား) is now inside the old War Office compound. This very early photograph was taken in November1855 by Linnaeus Tripe, at a time when the pagoda acted as a ""signal"" for ships approaching Rangoon harbour.

1855
The Shwedagon in 1855

This is the first photograph ever of the Shwedagon pagoda and was taken from where the Cantonment Gardens are today.

1860
The Sule Pagoda in quieter times (c. 1860).

1865
Sule Pagoda c. 1865.

1868
A view of Rangoon from Dalla c. 1868

A view of Rangoon from Dalla c. 1868 by the American photographer J. Jackson.

1870
A Rangoon office c.1870

1875
The Rangoon waterfront c. 1875.

1884 - 1935
Rangoon tram c. 1935

Rangoon's first steam tramway was built in 1884 and ran from the Strand to the Shwedagon. Electric trams were introduced in 1906, about the same time as in Singapore, Manila and Bangkok. In the 1930s trams provided efficient public transportation all around the city. The tramway system was effectively destroyed during World War Two.

1890s
Sule Pagoda in the 1890s

For anyone interested in old Burma photographs, there is a wonderful collection in the British Library archives, with hundreds now online atwww.bl.uk. This is a a photograph of the Sule Pagoda taken by the German photograph Philip Kliers in the 1890s. The photograph is taken from Barr Street, the old town hall is to the right and the Shwedagon in the distance. The cast-iron bandstand in the middle of the park (then "Fytche Park") was a gift of a local...

1890
The southern entrance to the Shwedagon c. 1890.

1890
Sule Pagoda and the old Municipal Office c. 1890

Photograph of Sule Pagoda and the old Municipal Office (Ripon Hall) c. 1890 by Phillip Adolph Klier

1898
An early Burmese NGO - the Marks Memorial Fund

This is a portrait of an early Burmese NGO - the Marks Memorial Fund - taken around the time of its formation in 1898. It was comprised mainly of St John's (now Lanmadaw BEHS No. 1) "Old Boys" and raised money for scholarships for poor students.

1900
The old post office on Strand Road

The old post office on Strand Road from a photograph taken around 1900. One of my favourite buildings that no longer exist.

1900
The beginning of Boundary Road

Boundary Road (now Dhammazedi Road) in Rangoon around 1900s, not far from where the City Mart, Savoy Hotel, and Sharkey's restaurant are today. It was called "Boundary Road" because it was long the "boundary" of the city, and was the home of well-known Burmese such as one-time mayor U Pa Thein, who had a beautiful teak house. Golden Valley just to the north was not built until much later, during 1920s and 1930s.

1900s
Wingaba around 1900s.

Wingaba around 1900s.

1900
Dalhousie Street c. 1900

Dalhousie Street (now Mahabandoola Street) c. 1900 looking west from around the 35th St intersection towards the Sule Pagoda. The spire of the Emmanuel Baptist Church is visible to the left.

1901
Phayre Street (Pansodan) c. 1910

The Thomas Cook office was at 102 Phayre Street (Pansodan Middle Block).

1904
Rangoon 1904

The Signal Pagoda (left) and the Shwedagon as seen from the European Infantry Barracks in the Cantonment (later the War Office).

1905
The Shwedagon-Botataung Tram c. 1905.

Downtown Yangon would do well with fewer cars, wider pavements, and good public transportation. The old tram line used to run down Shwedagon Pagoda Road and then along Strand Road to the Botataung Pagoda. Another line ran along Dalhousie Street.

1905
Balthazar Building on Bank Street

One of the most beautiful buildings in Yangon: the Balthazar building on Bank Street.The building was built in 1905 and was owned for many decades by the Armenian Balthazar family who emigrated to Burma in the 1860s (the Armenians have been an important community in Burma since the 1600s). The building once housed the offices of several companies, including Siemans, as well as law offices. It's sadly now in very poor shape, but I'm hoping the Yangon Heritage Trust will...